If you have a special needs child, you know that it is both a gift and a challenge. These children teach us so much about strength and joy, but keeping up with their health needs can be overwhelming. And sometimes, something as seemingly mundane or routine as dental hygiene takes a back seat to more pressing health concerns. We understand.
But dental issues can lead to major problems that could adversely affect your child’s well-being like infections, inflammation, tooth loss, and pain. Here are some tips to help you keep your special needs child’s smile – and body – healthier through good oral hygiene:
- Cleaning infants’ gums with a soft cloth gets them accustomed to how something feels in their mouths and helps them adjust to the routine.
- Start brushing teeth, and schedule the first dental appointment, as soon as the first tooth breaks through the gums.
- Brush your teeth together. Let your child watch you brush and give him or her a soft toothbrush to play with and mimic you while watching. This does not replace your assistance, but rather helps further accustom them to the sensation of the toothbrush and can reduce gagging when you take over.
- Special needs kids can be sensitive to tastes and textures so use a thin smear of toothpaste or dip the toothbrush in a fluoride oral rinse.
- Entertain your child during brushing. This could be a video, a special song, or even giving them something special to hold.
- Choose a variety of toothbrushes to keep it interesting. Try a spinbrush, a musical brush, and a brightly colored brush, then let your child choose which one to use.
- Brush your child’s teeth wherever he or she feels comfortable – it does not have to be in the bathroom.
- Brushing with your child’s head in your lap allows her to relax and lets you see the teeth better.
- If your child has some difficulty spitting, wipe his or her mouth with a soft cloth.
- If you are only able to brush once or twice a day, be sure to rinse your child’s mouth with water after administering sugary medicines and meals.
Find a Dentist Who Has Experience with Special Needs
Unlike your general family dentist, pediatric dentists have extra training to properly care for young children and those with special needs. With Dr. Ehrenman and Dr. Khan, you and your child will benefit from:
- Doctors who have received two years specialty training in providing care for special needs children and a comprehensive education in behavior management.
- A gentle compassionate staff.
- A flexible and fun environment where parents are welcome to sit by child’s side during treatment.
- Sedation and hospital dentistry when needed.
If you have any questions about dental care for your special needs child, or about our Long Island pediatric dentistry, please give us a call today! We are here to help.